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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Albedo \Al*be"do\, n. [L., fr. albus white.] Whiteness. Specifically: (Astron.) The ratio which the light reflected from an unpolished surface bears to the total light falling upon that surface.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

"ratio of light reflected from a surface," 1859, from Latin albedo, literally "whiteness," from albus "white" (see alb).


n. 1 (context physics meteorology astronomy English) The fraction of incident light or radiation reflected by a surface or body, commonly expressed as a percentage. 2 (context biology English) The white inner portion of the rind of citrus fruits that is a source of pectin, commonly referred to as the pith.


n. the ratio of reflected to incident light [syn: reflective power]


Albedo is the "whiteness" of a surface. It is a reflection coefficient, and has a value of less than one. Albedo is derived from Latin albedo "whiteness" (or reflected sunlight) in turn from albus "white", is the diffuse reflectivity or reflecting power of a surface.

The albedo of a surface is the ratio of radiation reflected from the surface to the incident radiation. Its dimensionless nature lets it be expressed as a percentage and is measured on a scale from zero (no reflection) of a perfectly black surface to 1 for perfect reflection of a white surface. Because albedo is the ratio of all reflected radiation to incident radiation, it will include both the diffuse and specular radiation reflected from an object. It is, however, common to assume a surface reflects in either a totally specular manner or a totally diffuse manner, as this can simplify calculations.

Albedo depends on the frequency of the radiation. When quoted unqualified, it usually refers to some appropriate average across the spectrum of visible light. In general, the albedo depends on the directional distribution of incident radiation, except for the extreme case of Lambertian surfaces, which scatter radiation in all directions according to a cosine function and therefore have an albedo that is independent of the incident distribution. In practice, a bidirectional reflectance distribution function (BRDF) may be required to accurately characterize the scattering properties of a surface, but albedo is very useful as a first approximation.

The albedo is an important concept in climatology, astronomy, and calculating reflectivity of surfaces in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) sustainable-rating systems for buildings. The average overall albedo of Earth, its planetary albedo, is 30 to 35% because of cloud cover, but widely varies locally across the surface because of different geological and environmental features.

The term was introduced into optics by Johann Heinrich Lambert in his 1760 work Photometria.

Albedo (role-playing game)

Albedo is a role-playing game based on Steve Gallacci's Erma Felna: EDF and Birthright storylines from the comic anthologies Albedo Anthropomorphics and Critters.

Albedo (disambiguation)

Albedo is a measure of reflectivity.

Albedo may also refer to:

  • ALBEDO Telecom, a telecom company
  • Albedo (alchemy), a stage of alchemical progression
  • Albedo (Ben 10), a character in the television series Ben 10: Alien Force''
  • Albedo Anthropomorphics, a comic book anthology
    • Albedo (role-playing game), derived from the comics
  • Albedo, the mesocarp of a fruit
  • Albedo, a character in the video game series Xenosaga
  • Albedo 0.39, a 1976 album by the artist Vangelis
  • Albedo One, an Irish horror, fantasy and science fiction magazine founded in 1993
Albedo (alchemy)

In alchemy, albedo is one of the four major stages of the magnum opus; along with nigredo, citrinitas and rubedo. It is a Latinicized term meaning "whiteness". Following the chaos or massa confusa of the nigredo stage, the alchemist undertakes a purification in albedo, which is literally referred to as ablutio – the washing away of impurities. In this process, the subject is divided into two opposing principles to be later coagulated to form a unity of opposites or coincidentia oppositorum during rubedo.

Titus Burckhardt interprets the albedo as the end of the lesser work, corresponding to a spiritualization of the body. The goal of this portion of the process is to regain the original purity and receptivity of the soul. Psychologist Carl Jung equated the albedo with unconscious contrasexual soul images; the anima in men and animus in women. It is a phase where insight into shadow projections are realized, and inflated ego and unneeded conceptualizations are removed from the psyche.

Usage examples of "albedo".

Councillor Albedo meets with no one except His Holiness and Lourdusamy.

Instead of answering, Albedo took an aggressive step closer to the CEO.

Finished with cycling the air-lock combination, Councillor Albedo tapped at the invisible key in his palm once again.

Only Albedo stayed with the Pope as His Holiness walked into the room, allowing the kissing of his ring and touching the heads of the gathered men and women as they knelt again.

Finally His Holiness, Pope Urban XVI, took his seat in the straight-backed throne with Albedo standing behind him.

Cardinal Mustafa, Cardinal Du Noyer, CEO Isozaki, and Councillor Albedo before concluding this business.

Councillor Albedo stepped to the edge of the low dais and began to speak.

Councillor Albedo, pacing back and forth in front of the altar once again.

Here Councillor Albedo quit pacing and stood directly in front of the altar.

The cardinals and Councillor Albedo and the Core wanted her to escape.

Now the pale-faced female paused and looked to Albedo for instructions.

Cardinal Mustafa, Cardinal Lourdusamy, and Monsignor Oddi were looking at Councillor Albedo most attentively, but their holographic fingers were touching their holographic chests.

Some of the characters in my tale are present in the Void Which Bind largely as scars, holes, vacancies -- the Nemes creatures are such vacuums, as are Councillor Albedo and the other Core entities -- but I was able to track some of the movements and actions of these beings simply by the movement of that vacancy through the matrix of sentient emotion that was the Void, much as one would see the outline of an invisible man in a hard rain.

Sandi Thiaput at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, had made several measurements of the Martian albedo for another project the previous year and Sandi e-mailed the raw and post-processed data to him.

And most of all, it must be highly polished for the albedo to be that high.